Aging is Not for Sissies

"In some ways I am not even born yet in other ways, I'm an adolescent and I'm struggling, and I'm rebelling, and raising hell.

And in other ways, I’m a sage. I'm 190 years old.  So how can you ask me my age?  What do years really have to do with my age?

Leo Buscaglia

I know it is close heresy to say this in our culture today but this age thing is a real kick in the butt. In fact, I don’t see any real fun in getting older at least physically speaking. Now I know exactly what you are thinking, ‘Judd, didn’t you write an article a few years back saying that, you are never too young or old for anything, because age is in your head, nowhere else.’ Well that was the old me or the young me depending on how you look at it. Today I have a different perspective of what getting old means from my experience with…well, aging. Now that I have had a good decade of being old or as my little niece says, “Ancient” I want to tell you that age is in your mind, in your back, in your feet, in your neck, and every other part of your anatomy. Sure, it is true that age has its advantages, but lets be honest it has its share of disadvantages too.

It wasn’t that long ago that I could squat more than a quarter of a ton. Now I have trouble bending over to tie my shoes. In the past I could do a two-hour work out without breaking much of a sweat. Today I do that same two hour work out in about three and a half hours and it is a near death experience. I get more tired than I use to also. An eight-hour day of work cries out for a 16-hour day of sleep; and when I don’t get it I pay the price. I nod off sometimes during very important moments like when I am having sex…with myself.

It is the same thing in my professional life. It takes me about a third more time to get where I am going and many times when I get there I forget why I was going there. I am certainly more absent minded. It is currently a common practice of mine to microwave a meal and discover it three days later when I am ready to microwave something else. I also rely heavily upon others to tell me the day, date, and year that we are presently living in. And forget about remembering other peoples names I have trouble remembering my own. I can watch the same movie three times in a span of a month, and can’t recall ever seeing it before…you could call that an embarrassing advantage of old age if you have the guts to admit it. I also have this thing about going to the gym when I am suppose to be going to work and going to work when I am suppose to be going to the gym. Half the time I don’t know where I am going.

Eating is another thing that aging has cheated me of doing. I can’t even come close to eating as heartily as I use to. When I was younger I could eat three servings of pasta that were generally preceded by a giant antipasto, and followed by a huge piece of chocolate cake…for breakfast. And the other six meals I ate that day were similar banquets, and I would never gain an ounce. Now I can look at a piece of chocolate cake and I can gain a pound. Even more disturbing is that it takes me a couple days to get a single serving of cream of wheat to wind through my digestive entrails before it is handed over to the Tide Bowl man. Worse yet, it makes more racket and hullabaloo than my garage dispose does to get the job done.

I can’t see as well as I once could either. I am lost without my glasses and even with them the phone book, restaurant menus, and catalog brochures are indecipherable. I am using a 14 font now just to write this article and the words are still somewhat blurry.  My hearing is just as bad. I notice that as I age people tend to mumble more and television stations lower their sound tracks to almost a whisper.

I’ve heard people say, “Forty is not old.”  They are perfectly right. Forty is not old, if you are a red wood tree, otherwise forty is ancient. In fact, forty was right about the age that I started experiencing things like injuries, illness, infections, and ailments. And all of those wonderful things seemed to turn up all at once.

Prior to reaching middle age I thought I was invincible. I never thought I could get hurt or sick. Once I hit forty though all hell broke lose. First I ripped my lower back out, then I tore my pectorals, next my bicep detached, then I tore my rotator cuff, then I herniated three cervical disk, and then the other rotator cuff went. Just when I though I couldn’t have any more fun I discovered infirmity and sickness. Like I said prior to reaching forty I never got sick. Now I am sick of getting sick. I’ve had kidney stones, arthritis, diververticulitis, gallbladder problems, gout, colds, pneumonia, flu, and the list goes on, and on and on. If there is any disease circulating through the world and I am within a thousand miles of it I’ll catch it. I can see some one on television with a cold and I will catch it and once I have it there is no telling how long I’ll keep it. Things have gotten so bad that every morning I wake up now I immediately look in the obituaries to see if I am still alive. I know they say the good die young. The truth is people die young because it takes a lot of courage and determination to grow old. Trust me, aging is not for sissies.

My doctor is extremely encouraging when I complain to him about being sick all the time. His explanation for everyone of my injuries or illnesses is the same. “Judd, you are getting older. The human body doesn’t function at an elite level for ever.” Of course, he is perfectly right which makes me hate him. As with anything which has been used and some times abused for 40, 50, 60, or 70 years, there is going to be gradual wear and tear and some destruction. Things will jam up, clog up and shrivel up; they will get stiffer, harder and eventually wither away. This is just to be expected and there is nothing wrong with it. I guess the problem is when we deny the aging process and become trapped in wishing we were shatterproof and indestructible.

Certainly getting older does have its advantages. For the life of me though I can’t remember what those advantages are. I know that when you get older you have nothing to prove, which is a blessing, because there is really nothing you can prove. Consequently, it is difficult for me to celebrate getting older.

After saying all of that though I am determined to live my life fully and as long as possible. I am more concerned now with living my life than extending it. Still, I am not in any hurry to see my Maker any time soon. It is said that Methuselah lived to be 969 years of age. I am shooting for her record. I may move a little slow, but I have all intentions of continuing to move. I refuse to give up.

You know I have great admiration for the people who have accepted the fact that they are getting older… acknowledged the fact that aging is an inevitable sequence of living and have risen above it. It takes strength, endurance, determination, and a discerning sense of humor to made peace with aging. Perhaps it is these people that deserve recognition not a birth date. Anybody can grow older.  That doesn't take any talent or ability. Growing older with grace and a strong commitment to life, that takes a special human being…that is the people we need to celebrate.

The only person, who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.

How to Stay Young

1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctor worry about them. That is why you pay him/her.

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.

3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. "An idle mind is the devil's workshop." And the devil's name is Alzheimer's.

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge. 8 Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, to the next county, to a foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER:

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Yours in Strength,

Dr. Judd

 

 

 

 

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